Book Review: Even Money by Dick and Felix Francis
I’ve written before about the rather huge number of prolific authors whose work I am familiar with from working at the library, but have never and probably will never read a word they write. Until recently, Dick Francis who has penned a huge number of novels set in the horse racing milieu was one of these. However a few weeks ago I received an e-mail from a publicist offering a copy of Francis’ latest novel, Even Money. I agreed to accept a copy and boy, I’m glad I did. Francis, who enjoyed a very successful career as a jockey in the 1950’s teams up now with his younger son Felix to co-author a marvelous novel, which is extremely engaging and well-plotted.
Ned Talbot is a legal bookie in the UK, who travels with his assistants and their computers to various horse racing meets around England where he makes a comfortable living taking bets on the races. An unlikely hero and narrator, Talbot quickly engages the reader in his bookie’s world of ever changing and re-calculated odds (three to one, two to one, etc.). Francis is able to quickly establish Talbot as a very sympathetic character, whose world is turned upside down by the appearance of a man claiming to be his father. Talbot knows that both of this parents have been deceased since his early infancy and is ill-inclined to believe his visitor. Until father and son are attacked by robbers after a racing meet at Ascot and Ned is shocked that it is his father rather than himself who is the robber’s target. The elder Talbot is murdered during the robbery attempt and Ned is set on a course that will bring him in contact with some of the racing world’s shadiest characters who are in the midst of a plot that involves substituting horses by means of changing the horse’s embedded RFID tags.
The pacing of the novel is superb and the volume is so engaging that I ended up staying up nearly all night to finish it. If you enjoy suspenseful thrillers or are interested in horse racing, Dick and Felix Francis’ Even Money is Highly Recommended.